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A few years ago, I never would have shared any of these photos. I would have said horrible things about myself in every one of them and then deleted them immediately. But over the past few months a lot has changed and I am learning to focus on the positives. I am choosing to see the happiness in all these photos! Because of that, here are all The Photos I Never Would Have Shared.
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Choosing which photos to share online can bring out all kinds of self criticism, negativity and general bad vibes. You immediately focus on every wobbly bit, bad angle and everyone else in the photo looks like some kind of super model. But what about what is happening in the photo, the moment that you are capturing?
All that criticism means you are missing what the photo is all about, a happy moment in time. Don't let negative body image steal that from you! The Photos I Never Would Have Shared are now some of my favourite family memories.
A year or so ago, the photos in this post would have been immediately deleted and I never would have even thought about posting them online. Why would I want to share a double chin, bad posture or "I am surviving on 2 hours sleep a night" photo?
Special moments from Avery's first birthday, family holidays, moments of celebration have all been deleted from existence simply because I hated what I saw. I couldn't see beyond my own criticism.
So why am I sharing these now? Because this is me! Still carrying a little too extra "baby weight" (she is 19 months now, I can't use that as an excuse any more), exhausted, puffy, not eating enough green vegetables, over worked, a little too much gin in my life and a lover of cake.
But I am also loving, kind, hard working, adventurous, a little bit quirky and am fortunate enough to live a pretty full and happy life. Deleting all those photos is not honouring those things.
A few months ago I was challenged by AXA PPP healthcare to "Own Your Fears". This wasn't about a fear of spiders or flying, it was about those fears that are part of your every day life and can really hold you back.
They wanted me to use my fears to push me to make changes, rather than letting me control my life and I can honestly say this project has been far more than a work collaboration, it has been life changing.
I chose to focus on my fear of being in front of the camera, but over the past 6 months I have realised that it is much more complicated than that, deeper rooted and challenging that fear has changed so many other parts of my life for the better.
The biggest change I have made is a general attitude overhaul and ditching the negativity. I had (have? I'm never going to be perfect) a really bad habit of being very self critical, seeing the negative in every situation. I quickly falling in to a negative spiral of thoughts which can impact my actions too.
I just want to be clear that this isn't an overweight thing. Even when I was a UK size 8 and 130lbs (at 5ft 9in) and got the body I thought I always wanted after losing 100lbs, I wasn't happy. I looked at my wedding photos I thought my collar bone stuck out too much, I looked pale and gaunt and I still had a wobbly stomach.
Losing weight didn't change my attitude towards myself and I could diet as much as I wanted, but I needed to learn to love myself no matter what.
During my challenge with AXA PPP healthcare, I had a health coach supporting me along the way and giving me little challenges each week that focused on different areas that I wanted to change.
One of the best things she suggested to me was to download a meditation app and practise mindfulness - that has had a huge impact on so many areas of my life and that is something I will definitely be continuing with.
In terms of owning my fear of being in front of the camera, my coach Amy suggested that the way to break a bad habit was to replace it with a good one. So, when it came to criticising every photo of myself that I saw, she said that I could replace the negative comment with a positive one and although it has been really hard, it has been really rewarding.
It allows me to focus on the happy moment in the photo and not just what I look like. Because I am more than what I look like, we all are!
This change in attitude and not critiquing the way I look doesn't mean I am fully embracing my body as it is and saying "screw the diet - I am staying as I am". I still want to lose weight, I still want to be a bit leaner, I definitely want to be fitter and that's okay.
In a world full of body positivity (which don't get me wrong, I think is amazing and I fully support), I think sometimes people can be shamed for wanting to lose weight.
But the key is, you don't have to be negative towards yourself during the times you are not where you want to be. You can be a masterpiece and a "work in progress" all at the same time. You can love yourself and want to change parts of you at the same time.
When I look at a photo now, instead of being pulled towards a body part, I look at my smile or my surroundings in the photo. I look at my daughters laugh as Dave has captured a photo of us playing.
I comment on something I like about the photo and a small (but not actually that small) change like that has filtered in to other parts of my life. Now I try and find a positive in every situation I find myself in, because being negative has never gotten me anywhere good.
I hope you have all enjoyed following my journey to "Own You Fears" over the past few months and I hope it has helped some of you to face your own fears too. I know this has resonated with so many of you, and I want to thank you for all your lovely comments and messages, and it's been great to know I am not alone in this.
If you want to Own Your Fears, you can submit them over on the AXA PPP healthcare website and start your own journey. I also want to give a huge thank you to AXA PPP healthcare for challenging me and supporting me in this - it's been a real journey and one I won't be giving up on.
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